Safety on a public campus, following tragedy

Jacob WaringReporter

Reflecting on tragedies around the country, one of the more recent being a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, some students said they feel safe on a public campus, and other have mixed views.

“Of course, you never know when it’s going to happen or where it’s going to happen,” said Onyx Rivera, “The best I can do is to remind myself that life is short.”

Rivera, a freshman, accounting major said he tries to live in the moment, and cherish life in every moment because life is fleeting.

The Pittsburgh shooting is in a long line of tragedies that have occurred in public places; concert venues, schools, and theaters included. On Oct. 17, 11 people were killed and seven were wounded in the attack. The alleged shooter was charged, and an investigation continues. It was reported as the 294th mass shooting of 2018 by the Gun Violence Archive.

Being a public campus, some students feel unsafe voicing religious language because of the incident.

Steven Judd, a middle-east history professor, teaches a course in the Judaic Studies Program: Israelis-Palestinian conflict. He said that he does not doubt that students are concerned about safety on a public campus.

“I think safety is something students and faulty are constantly thinking about in the back of their minds, not necessarily talking about,” said Judd. “There may be people who feel unsafe or uneasy on campus, and not necessarily vocalizing that concern to faulty or to others.”

Rivera said he feels safe on campus, nonetheless.

“Life may end unexpectedly,” said Rivera. “It really makes me think about—appreciate what I have right now and how fast it can go.”

Judd said the current political atmosphere is very anti-immigrant, and students are probably keyed into that in-terms of their concern.

“I think students are constantly aware of that, and I think it could create an uncomfortable feeling for some students, and justifiably so,” said Judd. “We’ve seen these acts of violence in places that are suppose to be safe places. I think that people are rightly concerned about that, and especially people who fall into minority groups who may be targeted because of who they are.”

Emily Kaufman, a senior, marketing major, said her initial reaction towards the synagogue shooting was one of fear, for herself, her family and the Jewish community. She said she really worries about the world, and how it is changing. Hate is growing, she said, people are being targeted and her people are being targeted.

She said she likes to think the world is safer than it is, and tries to stay optimistic. The shooting made her feel broken because she used to go to a synagogue. She said she felt safe then, they did not have police at her synagogue because it is a safe place, and “God is protecting us.”

Kaufman said she does not feel safe expressing her religion, or talking about the Jewish faith.

“I haven’t worn a Star of David necklace in years, probably 10 years, because I just don’t want to show that I’m Jewish,” said Kaufmann. “Not because I’m not proud, but because I’m scared of other people’s reactions. It’s very unfortunate because I have some pieces that I love, and I even have a ring that’s inscribed in Hebrew letters and I haven’t been wearing it because I’m afraid someone will spot it.”

She says she still feels safe on campus, and that this university has a noticeable enough police presence on campus. Still, she said she can never know what people will do.

She said the Jewish culture is all about helping people, not hurting. Because of this sentiment, the shooting was disturbing to her, and she said it is horrifying that people have that mindset.

Photo Credit: Jacob Waring


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